Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Cathie Ryan: Through Wind and Rain

Hope, joy, sorrow, love, laughter, resilience, a sense of humor, a sense of history and a vivid musical imagination, along with a voice that invites listening and a way of singing that allows space for for each listener ot find a home in the music: all that together is what you will find in Cathie Ryan’s album Through Wind and Rain.
cathie ryan wind and rain irish
Ryan is both Irish and American, the daughter of parents who came from Ireland to Michigan and in summers took their children back to spend time with grandparents in Ireland. As an adult, Ryan has lived in both America and in Ireland. Her bone deep knowledge and love of the music and landscapes of both places is present in her music

Ryan chose the title of her recording from the song Walk the Road, written by Kate Rusby. Ryan sings

Think not of casting off your dreams
for all is not just as it seems
and we’ll walk the road together

all the way through and rain
I’ll never deceive my heart again
hand in hand across the land
we’ll walk the road together

Faith, friendship, courage, resilience, love , and joy in the words and in the singing, it’s a track well worth the listening many more times than once, a song which holds ideas that resonate through the music Ryan has chosen for Through Wind and Rain.
cathie ryan copyright kerry dexter
“I threw my heart in the wishing well....” Ryan sings on the first song on the recording. That image well suits the economically told and well imagined tale of love found, enjoyed, explored, and lost, and the courage to sort things out and go on again. The words of In the Wishing Well are Ryan’s own and the tune is from Irish tradition. It makes a natural connection to I’m a Beauty, a song from Laura Smith which holds both humility and self confidence in a thoughtfully sung reflection.

Mairéad Ni Mhaonaigh is best known for her fiery fiddle playing as a founder of the Irish traditional band Altan. She is also a gifted songwriter, a gift Ryan honors with Mo Nion O. Ni Mhaonaigh wrote the song, a reflection of wishes for a child framed in images of nature, in Irish. Ryan has made a graceful translation to English and includes some of the Irish as well. Through the song you will hear lanscapes of Donegal, in Ireland’s northwest, as well as as the heart of a mother’s wishes for her child.

Fare Thee Well is an Appalachian ballad through which Ryan gives voice to a quiet yet powerful story of sorrow. Liberty’s Sweet Shore, an emigration song, tells of the mixed sorrows, hope, and joys of people leaving Ireland and setting out to a new land.

cathie ryan band copyright kerry dexterLiberty's Sweet Shore was written by John Doyle, who adds his thoughtful guitar presence to many of the tracks on the album. Ryan produced Through Wind and Rain herself. Taking her time with the project, she was able to bring in the talents of musical friends from Ireland and America. These include Eilis Kennedy, Pauline Scanlon, Leslie Ritter, Aoife O’Donovan, and John Doyle on harmony singing, Matt Mancuso and John McCusker on fiddle, Michael McGoldrick on pipes and whistles, Joanie Madden on flute, Seamus Egan on bouzouki, Patsy O’Brien on guitar, and others whose names you’d recognize. They each help tell the musical story, from the dancing heart of In the Wishing Well to the blessing of May the Road Rise to Meet You to the laughter in the tale of Johnny Be Fair and the set of tunes which close the album.

Come walk the road with Cathie Ryan and her musical friends, with these songs and others equally engaging. Through wind and rain, sorrow and joy, song and tune, you will be well rewarded.

you may also wish to see
Cathie Ryan: teaching tradition
Road Trip Music: Michigan
Music for the Heart of Winter: Cathie Ryan

photographs of Cathie Ryan, and Cathie Ryan with Greg Anderson and Hanneke Cassel, by Kerry Dexter

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


Anonymous merr said...

Music that combines storytelling with beautiful song and a connection to the words always wins. Sounds like what you've featured here.

3:58 PM  
Anonymous r said...

I'm hoping she'll be coming to Austin to perform. SXSW, maybe?

5:26 PM  
Blogger Kerry Dexter said...

Cathie has played the Cactus, a good few years back now, and she's appeared several times more recently at the North Texas Irish Festival up in Dallas. I am sure she'll be on the road a good bit with this new recording, so she may be heading your way.
I could hear her doing a gig with Will Taylor & Strings Attached, myself...

6:10 PM  
Blogger MyKidsEatSquid said...

Her album sounds great. I'm curious, what part of Michigan did she live in?

11:20 PM  
Blogger Kerry Dexter said...

She grew up in Detroit. On her first album (just called Cathie Ryan) she has a song she's written about that, about being a kid during the civil rights riots, called Detroit Was Burning.

11:56 AM  
Anonymous HeatherL said...

She sounds like a beautiful musician. I hope her album does well.

1:52 PM  
Anonymous Jane Boursaw said...

Love Cathie Ryan!

10:04 PM  
Blogger Loni Parker said...

I think Cathie Ryan is amazing, I love her lyrics. Nowadays, you hear so many songs that have lyrics that seem to have been written by 6 year olds with no poetic value so Cathie is a welcome breeze. Clearly, she's someone who takes the time to write about things that she's passionate about and I guess that's why I love singing her songs in the shower. I only wish that someone like Sing To The World would release a Cathie Ryan karaoke album, that would be excellent!

10:20 AM  

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